The more humble of Tao of Tea’s two Portland teahouses, Original Tao was built in 1997 and is tucked into a small neighborhood in the southeast part of the city. It is small, but well worth a visit. In addition to the extensive tea selection, which includes choices of traditional serving styles, the teahouse has a nice selection of small plates and light meals, culled mostly from traditional cuisines of China, India and Japan. They use a wide mix of traditional serving ware, resulting in a funky melange of iron and ceramic vessels, varying in colors and nation of origin. The hot water for my partner’s Chinese gongfu service for an aged green pu-ehr was presented in a yellow Japanese tetsubin pot – Incongruous, but quite functional.
I chose a pot of Emperor’s Gold, which exceeded my expectations, resulting in a lot of gushing after each sip. Jin Cha or gold tea is one of the fabulous and deservedly famous teas from Yunnan province. Containing only the gold-tipped leaves, Tao of Tea’s offering of this varietal is truly exquisite.
Only certain tea plant varietals can produce the golden colored tipped leaves. The golden color emerges during processing and after accurate ‘withering’, moisture drying of the leaves. Few areas in Yunnan contain these type of plants. Other areas known to have golden tipped varietals Hunan and Fujian in China and Assam in India.
– from Tao of Tea’s description
Having enjoyed Adagio’s Yunnan Gold I knew that this would be a good selection at the teahouse and as I smelled the rich aroma emerging from the large rounded yixing pot I knew I had chosen wisely. The caramel-like sweetness and smooth character of this tea elevate it above so many other less elegant black teas, and it is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorites. A four-ounce tin of this tea, purchased at Tao of Tea’s retail store two doors down from the teahouse, accompanied us back to Seattle.